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Inside the world of books

FIND YOUR PICK: Welcome upswing in reading. Photo: S. James   | Photo Credit: S_James

“I have come in search of books on organic farming,” says Pichandi, a peasant from Melur, browsing through the bamboo shelves at the ‘ Iyalvaagai’ book stall. “I am looking for recipe books to sharpen my cooking skills,” says new bride Valli. While 70-year-old Pushpa picks books on home-made medicines and Astrology, college students like Vichitra browse self-helps and motivation books by Shiv Khera and Robin Sharma.

The book fair is no longer a weekend outing. Even on weekdays, the 230-odd stalls have been brimming with people checking out titles and authors.

The fair is bigger by half-a-dozen stalls this year and stocks over 200,000 titles and a million copies. Schools and colleges are bringing students on a day’s visit. The young or the old, all are swarming the stalls looking for best buys.

“The response has been gradually improving over the years. May be the reading habit of people is on the upswing,” says Purushottaman, Secretary, Sarvodaya Ilakkiya Pannai trust and a member of Bookseller’s and Publishers’ Association of South India (BAPASI).

“Madurai readers are peculiar. Apart from the city crowd, readers from the rural areas come in large numbers to the fair. They look at books as a source of information and knowledge and read more for necessity than for leisure or simply for the love of reading.” He says that the demand for autobiographies and self-help books is up. ‘ Narendra Modi’, a political biography on the Prime Minister by Andy Marino and ‘ Modi Demystified’ by Ramesh Menon, has moved fast among the biographies in the last few days. New arrival, ‘ Strictly Personal’ written by Daman Singh, daughter of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also grabbing the attention of book lovers.

This year more copies of the Tamil classics Kalki and Chandilyan are being sold much like the religious and spiritual books such as the Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita and Quran that are finding more buyers.

“More people are turning towards spiritual books for answers,” says Parameswaran, who manages a Tamil book stall. “Even young people are reading books on philosophy.”

While the fair offers a good range of academic books, dictionaries and language learning books too, the variety in the English novel section isn’t as exciting. “The number of English book stalls has come down further this year,” says S. Senthuran, a member of BAPASI. “Madurai has more Tamil readers. Apart from the few urban youth, a large number of people seem to be serious readers of either new-age Tamil novels or the old classics.”

There are hardly four stalls that have displayed English novels dominated by Paulo Coelho, Agatha Christie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Sidney Sheldon and Dan Brown. ‘ A southern music’ by T.M. Krishna and ‘ A manifesto for change’ co-authored by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and V. Ponraj are a few hot picks among the English books.

Senthuran says young parents are always keen to buy books for their kids. “This year too we have brought more of children books,” he informs.

At least a dozen stalls are stacked with innovative books, CDs and interactive learning tools for kids.

One among them is called iPaati, a series of children books consisting rhymes, songs and stories written by Madhan Karky Vairamuthu besides the Grolier and Scholastic with CD-books, audio-visual learning materials, innovative games and puzzles for children.

The book fair is on at the Tamukkam Grounds till September 7 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Entry is free.


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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 7:45:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/madurai-book-fair-inside-the-world-of-books/article6376395.ece

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